RFK Jr campaign laughs off idea parasite that ate part of his brain has lingering effects on his fitness – Washington Examiner

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Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said the parasite that ate part of his brain would not affect his fitness to be president. 

After he reportedly experienced memory loss, a 2012 brain scan revealed a dark spot on Kennedy’s brain, which was believed to be a tumor at the time. Upon further examination, one doctor offered a counterexplanation: a parasite that had gotten inside his head and died.  

“[The dark spot] was caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died,” Kennedy said in a 2012 deposition reviewed by the New York Times

Kennedy said he might have contracted the parasite on a trip to South Asia but was not completely sure. Experts said the parasite was likely a pork tapeworm larva, which survives off nutrients in the human body. 

Following the parasite, Kennedy was also diagnosed with mercury poisoning, which is usually caused by eating too much fish that could contain mercury. 

“I loved tuna fish sandwiches,” he said. “I ate them all the time.”

Experts believe Kennedy likely experienced memory loss due to mercury poisoning, not the tapeworm. 

“I have cognitive problems, clearly,” Kennedy said in 2012. “I have short-term memory loss, and I have longer-term memory loss that affects me.”

Kennedy has since said he has made a full recovery from the parasite and mercury poisoning. He said the parasite did not require treatment. Kennedy also said he has since changed his diet from eating so much fish and that he began traveling less. 

His campaign spokeswoman, Stefanie Spear, laughed off the idea that either diagnosis would have an effect on his health or fitness in this year’s campaign. 

“That is a hilarious suggestion, given the competition,” Spear said. 

Kennedy, 70, has portrayed himself as an athletic, youthful candidate compared to the headline contestants: President Joe Biden, 81, and former President Donald Trump, 77. 

The mercury poisoning and parasite are not Kennedy’s only health-related problems. As a child, he was diagnosed with hepatitis C, which he said has been treated and that he had no lingering effects from. He also has a neurological condition, spasmodic dysphonia, which affects his voice as his vocal cords are sometimes pushed together.

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While he was in college, he said his heart began beating out of sync. Between 2011 and 2012, he was hospitalized three times for the heart condition, requiring a defibrillator to reset his heart’s rhythm.

“It feels like there’s a bag of worms in my chest,” Kennedy said. “I can feel immediately when it goes out.”

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